Monthly Archives: March 2014

Processing the corn!

Finally harvested the last of the corn yesterday.  Feels good to have it all frozen ready to see us out for winter.  Everyone in the family loves corn so its great to have a good supply throughout the year.

corn cob photo

 

Most of it we picked a couple of weekends ago, and my wonderful parents peeled it, cut it into meal sized portions and froze it for me.  This is huge job, and usually very messy with all the tassels ending up everywhere, so I’m so grateful for that help!

Frozen corn cob photo

Once we have picked all the cobs off the stalks I always pull them out of the ground break them off at ground level (because the ground is too hard to pull them out!!) and feed them to Pickles and BJ.  They LOVE them.  I think they are particularly appealing because there is no other green feed to be seen anywhere at the moment!

Cows eating corn stalks

This is one row of stalks – I have four more to feed out, but I thought one row a day would do them!

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BJ gets a Pedicure

BJ is our bull – and yes you read it right – we gave him  a pedicure!  As you can see he is a big enormous black angus bull.  He has been in with the main herd of cows since early January, and when we took him out we noticed he was limping a bit on his back feet.  Closer inspection revealed some very overgrown toes!

bull photoCam wanted to have a go a trimming them on our own, but thankfully I convinced him that we needed the vets assistance (i.e. lots of sedative!!).  We had to keep him off food for 24 hours prior, so he has been limited to the cattle yard since yesterday morning.  At 8am this morning we managed to coax him into the narrow race with some yummy lucerne hay, and the vet gave him an injection of anaesthetic into a vein under his tail.  We then had to get him out of the race before he fell asleep.  We did manage to get him to squeeze his way out, but we needn’t have worried, he’s a bull that likes to sleep on his feet!  After waiting for about 15 minutes for the sedative to take effect, we could see that he was VERY drousy, but he was still standing, so John the vet decided to give him a bit of a top-up.  Being that he was so sleepy, we didn’t even need to contain him to do it.  Cam, my husband held up the tail, and John did the needling.  Another 15 minutes later, still no lying down, but very VERY dopey looking, we decided to give it a go in the standing position.

Bull photo

As you can see, he is really out to it!  He has never had a halter on before, and that rope is just looped around the fence!  I just wanted to cuddle him when he was like this.  Normally he is no where near tame enough to touch!

Here are the finished toes, not quite Hollywood standard, but I’m sure he will be much more comfortable!

Bulls feet

While he was out to it, I couldn’t resist getting a photo of his gorgeous eyelashes!

Bulls eyelashes

It was all over and done with very quickly, and now I just need to keep and eye on him for the rest of the day, to make sure he wakes up okay, and get him back onto feed and water later this afternoon.

Later…

A couple of hours later he is still a bit drowsy, but had managed to wander over to the hay pile for a bit of a nibble, so all good!

bull foot photo

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Happiness is……

The view from my office window this morning!

Sunrise photo

Gorgeous girls!

02 Jasmine

Inquisitive ferrets

ferret photo

Cousins

cousins

Germinated seedlings

Seedling photo

Happy Thursday!

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The chook pen is finished!

During January wonderful Cam had a real run at getting the chook pen finished – and we finally got there!  I was so excited that we were working on it that I kind of forgot to get more photos along the way…  But here’s Danny putting the finishing touches on the doors.

DIY chook pen

Once it was completed we had to drag it across from the shed where it was built to its final position.  Pickles thought it was a very interesting process.

Home made chook pen

In fact she was quite excited about it – leading the way!

DIY Chook ped

Here it is in it’s final resting place.  If you go back to this post you will see images of our old (and very embarrassing)  chook pen.  You can see with the new one, that we have used the same large red panels to create a “front yard” for the chooks.  The pen with the red yard is for our hens.  The little one next to it is for either clunky hens that I want to use to raise some chickens, or our roosters – who are in there currently.  And the door to the left of the photo is my gardening shed, as the new chook pen location is right next to the vegie garden.

Chook pen chicken coop photo

You can see in the photo above there are a couple of hens coming out the little doorway that we made for them, so that we don’t have to leave the main door open all the time.  We have put a red tank on the far end to catch any rain water that runs off the roof.  There is a gutter running along the back.  In the two shade cloth cloches at the front are a couple of kiwi fruit vines.  The yard gets very VERY hot so I’m hoping that I might be able to encourage them to wind their way up the wire to provide some shade.  I have put up some temporary wire to make a little run for the roosters, so they can get out into some sunshine.  Below you can see our arucana rooster having a crow, and the other pic, is his girlfriends next door, a couple in the nesting boxes, and some on the perch.

Inside chook pen photo

Its amazing how quickly they make a mess of everything though.  Those nesting boxes were bright white when they went in, and perch was new pine!  The drum to the left is up on a stand, and has a piece of PVC pipe coming from a hole in the middle at the bottom which falls into a small container.  This is our self feeder – we can keep about a months worth of feed here with out having to top up.

I love seeing other peoples chicken coops/chook pens – if you have seen a great one online please leave the web address in the comments section below, so I can check it out!

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Vegie Garden Update

The vegie garden has been very slow this year.  Admittedly we had very mild temperatures during spring and early summer, but I was sure that the hot weather we have had since Christmas would have made up for it.  Normally I would have had buckets and buckets of Roma tomatoes by now, and plenty of other varieties also.  I have started picking some,  but there are still lots that are quite green like you can see in the photo below.

Tomato photoThe bushes are still very healthy though, so maybe they might still ripen.  Particularly if the weather stays warm, and we don’t get an early frost.

I planted some seeds about a fortnight ago, and they have just started germinating – left to right, are brown onions, brussel sprouts and carrots.

Seedling photoObviously I will need to do some thinning before too long.  I usually do this with a pair of scissors, and just nip them off as close to the ground as I can get, because often their roots are intertwined, and I don’t like to disturb the roots of the ones I want to keep.

Most of the corn is picked now.  I do still have some cobs still to pick, from lower down on the stalks, which hopefully I’ll get done this weekend. Pickles our Jersey milking cow is looking very longingly at them.  I think she senses that they will nearly be hers.  She loves them so much we had to run a low voltage electric fence around the vegie garden to stop her forcing her way in for them.  I love her like crazy, but she can be so distructive!  I’m very excited to start picking the spuds soon.  I could probably pick them now, but I just want to give them as much chance as possible to reach a good size.  Truth be known I have squirrelled the odd one out from under the straw already.

Corn and potato photo

These are my little spinach plants.  I’ve also started picking some leaves from these, although I know I should wait until they are a bit bigger.  I just love putting spinach in everything though.  Its a great vegie to sneak into meals like spaghetti bolognaise, and other pasta dishes, because it almost disappears, so the kids don’t know its in there, but yet it provides SOOOO much goodness!  I really need to get some more rows planted!

Spinach plants photo

The pumpkins are another one I’m a bit worried about with regards to ripening before the cold weather comes.  I have two varieties –  a couple of plants of butternut, and another one that I’m not too sure about.  I actually thought I was planting some cucumber seedlings, but instead these massive round pumpkins are growing.  If anyone knows what variety they are, I would love you to let me know via the comments section below.  They are nearly as big as a basketball!

Pumpkin photo

Finally, the photos below show one of my capsicum plants, and then the corner of the garden where I have my permanent plants, being asparagus, rhubarb and strawbs.  The capsicums have been slow as well, but they have lots of medium sized fruit on them now, so I am not too worried about them.  At least you can eat green capsicums as easily as you can red (not quite so yummy tho)  The strawberry patch gets bigger and bigger every year.  It has already taken over one hole row, which was previously for annual vegies.  I might have to get cranky with it this year, and let it know its boundaries.  If anyone close by would like some runners please let me know!  Over behind the strawberry patch, under the wire cage is some cauliflower and broccoli plants.  I have to start them under a cage so that the white butterflies don’t create havoc with them.  One year, they were so bad that the plants never got more than about 2cm high!

strawberry and rhubarb patch photo

Well thats a pretty good overview of how the vegie garden sits at the moment.  I am hoping for rain, but also hoping for the warm weather to continue so my tomatoes, capsicums and pumpkins all ripen!

How’s everyone else’s kitchen garden looking at this time of the year?

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Blue Eggs!!!!

Our Arucana’s have started laying!!

It is so exciting – we were away last weekend, and came home to one lone blue egg nestled into a nesting box.  The next day there was none, but then the day after that we got two!  It varied for a few days, but now we are consistently getting 3 blue eggs a day!  They are quite small eggs – not sure if they will stay small, as the hens are quite small, or if they will get bigger once the hens have laid a few.  I know this happens with some other breeds- there first few eggs are small.  The eggs they hatched out from were full-sized, so fingers crossed!

blue eggs photo

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Bottling Sauce

My vegie garden has been a bit disappointing this year.  My tomato bushes are loaded with fruit, but most of it is still quite green.  I love to make tomato sauce, and  was getting quite worried that my tomatoes wouldn’t ripen, before the weather turned cold.  So I lashed out and purchased a 10kg box of Romas.

Everyone has their favourite tomato sauce recipe…. But here’s mine!

9 kg chopped tomatoes – my little scales only take 1 kg of tomatoes before they start rolling out, so I had to repeat 10 times!

Add 1.5 kg chopped onions, and about 100g chopped garlic.

Boil for about 5 hours!

Cooking tomatoes for sauceAs you can see, by now the sauce has reduced quite a bit, and is a deep rich red colour.  Now its time to sieve it, to remove the skins and seeds.  I actually use a muellie(no idea if I am spelling that right??)  with reasonably fine holes.  Its a very messy job, but I really believe it is better that trying to peel all your tomatoes before you cook them!

Seiving tomatoes for sauceAs you can see in the pic above, there’s not a lot left after I’ve turned that handle a few times.  The chooks had fun scratching through all the left over skins.

Then its back on the stove, with the spices, vinegar and sugar.  I add ground cloves, ground ginger, and some chilli to mine, but you can really use what ever takes your fancy – whatever spices appeal to you.   I use about 4 cups of vinegar, and about 1.5 kg of sugar.

Once all the ingredients are in, I slowly bring it up to a simmer, and let it simmer for about an hour, until it has reduced even further, and has darkened up in colour.  I look at the consistency also, is it a good “pouring” consistency??  Then its bottling time!  I have a german brother in-law and when he was staying with us at christmas he discovered that Aldi sold a type of german beer that he loved (Flensburger – it was very good!).  As soon as I saw them I thought they would make great sauce bottles, so fingers crossed they have all sealed okay!  Before I poured the sauce mixture in the bottles I washed them thoroughly in the sink, and then sat them in a hot oven for about 1/2 an hour.  This has always worked for me in the past with regards to sterilisation, but please use whatever method you believe to be best.

Tomato sauce spices

Tomato sauce making

So I have 13 of the Flensburger beer bottles and 4 other 500ml bottles so I have just over 6 litres of tomato sauce.  Hopefully that should last us the year, although I do love giving it to friends and family as gifts or in return for favours.  And the kids have been using it as a dip today too, with dry bikkies so it may not last as long as I hope.

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